Wednesday, 2 February 2022


One of the earliest Christian celebrations and pre-dating by centuries the establishment of Christmas and Easter, the Feast of the Presentation, reckoned forty days postpartum when couples (mostly the mother and the separation period was doubled for baby girls) partook in a ritual purification ceremony with burnt offerings to cleanse both infant child and themselves and reintegrate into the community, Candlemas and its later backformations became popular during the fourth century Plague of Justinian and it may be an appropriation of the feriae and fasti of Lupercalia and Ferฤlia that fell later in the month, the former itself a purification festival to promote health and fertility—February itself named after februa, the brooms to sweep away the detritus of the old year. Traditionally in some communities, decorations are finally taken down and candles are brought to local churches for blessing and used throughout the year.

Friday, 7 January 2022

saint distaff’s day

Observed in medieval Europe on the day after the Feast of the Epiphany and also known as Roc or Rock Day (used with a spindle to make fabric) is an unofficial solemnity (see also) to mark going back to the grind with spinners and weavers resuming their work after the holiday break. Regarded traditionally as women’s work, there would be a gathering and some merry-making, recently seeing a revival, and men held their own parallel party, letting the short week run its course, called Plough Monday.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

election by bean and pea

For those traditions that began counting on Christmas Day, it is Twelfth Night or Epiphany Eve, concluding Christmas season and marked by customs including caroling, blessing one’s threshold and eating King Cake, whose recipe and form varies but always contains a fรจve (for trinket, literally a fava bean), with the recipient being named king for the evening. English kitchens adopted the convention of baking a bean in one side and a pea in the other, with the lucky woman finding the pea crowned queen—the pair also known as the Lord and Lady of Misrule. The riotous celebration pictured is from novelist and dramatist William Harrison Ainsworth’s Mervyn Clitheroe and merry-making in Farmer Shakeshaft’s Barn as illustrated by the sketch artist professionally known as Phiz, Hablot Knight Brown, who embellished many books by Ainsworth, whom we have to thank for documenting (and in some cases reviving) quaint and old-fashioned customs in detail to include King Cake and the practise of awarding a flitch of bacon to married couples who’ve made it to their first anniversary without regrets, and Charles Dickens, choosing that particular pen-name to better harmonise with the latter’s pseudonym of Boz.

Tuesday, 28 December 2021

east of eden

Venerated in the Coptic Church on this day—likely as a pious correspondence between the first murder-victim and the massacre of ChildermassAbel of Genesis, the second son of Adam and Eve, was murdered by his older brother Cain after God engendered jealously in the latter by preferring Abel’s sacrifice. Respectively a farmer and a shepherd, etymologically Cain means smith as in someone who would craft a ploughshare to work the land and Abel is the English rendering of ibil, herdsman, their story is thought to be an allegory recalling the ancient clashes between traditional hunter-gatherer societies and agricultural civilisations and concepts of the commons versus private property. God punished Cain by condemning him, ironically, to wander the Earth—with no fixed abode (this Land of Nod is an abstraction, like utopia) and no possibility of release through provoking another to kill him—ostensibly encouraging him to trespass with impunity. According to some traditions, Abel was appointed the judge of the dead.

a carol for another christmas

Commissioned by the United Nations and intended to be the first of a planned series of television specials to educate the public about the its mission and foster global cooperation, the modern retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Rod Serling (previously) aired on this day in 1964, the Joseph L. Mankiewicz not shown again until December 2012. The score is by Henry Mancini and stars Sterling Hayden and Eva Marie Saint.

Sunday, 26 December 2021

✝ j.m.j. ✝

Venerated on the Sunday between Christmas Day and New Year’s (or traditionally, before 1969, on the first Sunday after Epiphany), the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated to honour as a familial unit Jesus, His mother Mary and His step-father Joseph—presenting their relationship as a model for good Christian families, though relatively little is mentioned canonically about the upbringing of Christ after the Nativity. A popular art subject from the late fifteenth century onward, sometimes the depictions went beyond the nuclear family with Anne, Mary’s cousin, and John the Baptist included—though never later portrait studio editions with his four brothers, James, Joses, Jude and Simon and unnamed sisters.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

weiรŸe weihnacht


Friday, 24 December 2021

✨seasons greetings✨

We here at PfRC wish you and yours all good things and the biggest, brightest little Christmas yet. Take care of each other, and we look forward to seeing you all again real soon. Happy holidays!

adam’s rib

Though not referred to as saints historically nor theologically in Ordinary Time, during the vigil of Christmas, corresponding with their feast day, this first couple and primogenitor (technically, Eve was cleft from her husband since Lilith as a co-creation didn’t work out as planned, Adam is called Father alone) of the human race, as Mary is called “the New Eve, Coremptrix” with Jesus “the New Adam,” celebrated on the next day. The cultural appropriation of the Christmas tree is sometimes attributed to “paradise plays” recounting the narrative of Genesis reenacted, fully-clothed I imagine at this time of year (they being the co-patrons of gardeners and tailors), on Christmas Eve, with greenery (a Paradise tree) decorated with red apples (later baubles), acting out their sin of disobedience and being expelled by the angels and made to toil.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

twelfth of never

Though originally taken from an old Anglo-Irish expression for a date which would never arrive and then used as a term of evasion and non-commitment, an outside of time celebration that occurs neither before nor after Christmas, in Newfoundland and Labrador Tibb’s Eve was unofficially pinned to the day before of Christmas Eve. Advent being a sacred and sober time, akin to Lent, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most refrained imbibing until Christmas day. The night's festivities have evolved into a tradition of a pre-holiday gathering among friends ahead of the mandatory time spent with family. The folk etymology, a backronym, has Tibb as being a corruption of tipple or to get tipsy but first appears as a character in print in the early sixteen-hundreds as a familiar though indeterminate saint of questionable reputation and not known for keeping promises.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

letters from santa

Spotted by Messy Nessy Chic in a very festive link round-up refers us to a collection of letters from Father Christmas first collected and shared in 1976, three years after the author’s death, addressed to the family of J.R.R. Tolkein. Starting out as simple, illustrated greetings, over the course the youngsters’ childhood evolve to include ancillary characters and support staff, unmistakably shaky penmanship, franking and even an arctic dialect of Qenya, as in the salutation from the Polar Bear: Mรกra mesta an ni vรฉla tye ento, ya rao nea—Good-bye until I see you next, and I hope it will be soon!

Monday, 20 December 2021


kentucky christmas: the origins of KFC for festive dinners in Japan traced to the Osaka World Expo  

you sure have a way with people—well, they’re my species: Harold and Maude at fifty, with soundtrack by Yusuf (Cat) Stevens  

lake toilet-brush: the toponymic curse of IKEA product names 

 ๐Ÿ’Š: a round-up of the Resurrections premier  

build back better: US president Joe Biden’s legislative agenda derailed  

die hard’s a christmas movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999) re-evaluated

Sunday, 19 December 2021


schwibbogen: a look at Germany’s Erzgebirge’s Christmas decorative arts traditions—see also

lakshmi-narayan: a looted sculpture returned to Nepal becomes a god again  

wind in your sails: a giant kite will pull a ship across the ocean in a demonstration project to cut emissions

all songs considered: NPR’s Bob Boilen’s recommended listening from the past year  

farmscrapers: advances in hydroponics and robot-assisted harvesting are making vehicle crop-growing a reality  

wysiwyg: Anna Mills on her typography and creative outlook  

carry on regardless: the comic language pf Professor Stanley Unwin  

god rest you merry, gentlemen: the comma in this carol makes us wonder about punctuation

Friday, 17 December 2021

ante diem xvi kalendas ianuarias

First observed in the Roman Empire on this day in 497 BC and over the centuries expanded into a six-day feast ending on 23 December, Saturnalia was held in honour of the god Saturn with public banquets, role-

reversals, continual revelry and private gift-exchanges⁠—usually in the form of white elephant presents, wax or pottery statuettes (action figures, see also) of the divine called sigillaria. Theologically important for some Romans who saw the festive time as a revival of the Golden Age (just as some classicists and successor nations see the Romans), traditions heavily references its Athenian equivalent, called Kronia (ฮšฯฯŒฮฝฮนฮฑ—for Chronos), when the gods ruled the world and toil and class was unknown, though not anticipating the solstice and the gradual return of the sun after a break, dark winter, Kronia was held ahead of the first harvest in July, August during the first month of the Greek calendar beginning in the summer, Hekatombaiลn. Rumours of human sacrifice to appease Saturn were greatly exaggerated and like spread by Christian apologist (see above).

Wednesday, 15 December 2021


the hallmark channel: a treasury of classic festive films from Eastern Europe  

savage garden: the ruins of Rome’s Colosseum was once a wild green oasis full of exotic plants—via Messy Nessy Chic 

touching the sun: the Parker Solar Probe enters and safely exits the corona  

barcode architects: a new triangular high-rise for Rotterdam’s maritime district  

smart tweed: artificial intelligence predicts the next holiday, must-have gifts  

็‚ฌ็‡ต: Japanese in-situ heating solutions called kotatsu (see previously) have been around for a long time  

what day is it boy: the labour shortage hits Scrooge & Marley


Via Nag on the Lake, we are absolutely transported with this encounter with designer Kelly Wearstler’s Gingerbread Dreamhouse executed in California modernist style (see also) with porthole windows and a chequerboard faรงade. Not a model of a single residence, Wearstler took cues from an array of iconic homes from Rudolph Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Saturday, 11 December 2021


level 5—the scent represents a fully personal experience with some unrelated property. the experience itself has no aroma or shared understanding: Yankee Candle’s Stages of Abstraction—via Waxy  

pine-eleven: conservative pundits suggest arson attack on network’s Christmas tree a ‘hate crime’ and an assault on religious freedoms  

by-line: Bloomberg’s annual jealousy list of articles they wish they’d written—via Kottke  

a new system of arithmetic and metrology: Johan Nystrรถm’s hexadecimal tonal and temporal notation (1863)  

alpine exports: Little Switzerlands abroad—see also here and here  

you buy—i die: Indian handicraft as indictment against thoughtless consumption

Sunday, 28 November 2021


From the Latin for arrival, the fourth Sunday from Christmas Day marks the start of the liturgical year and is accorded certain themes and readings: the first Advent mass has celebrants anticipating the “End Times,” the “Messianic Age” and the second coming, whereas the next two focus on the preachings of John the Baptist that made ready the way for Jesus with the last being the traditional time for nativity pageants—plus it marks the start of lighting wreaths or Christingles, setting up trees and the ceremonial, welcoming hanging of the greens, putting out the garlands.

Friday, 26 November 2021

when harry met santa

Fair warning—I thought it was too early for holiday commercials but this is a tear-jerker worth watching and it’s advisable to have some tissues handy—via World of Wonder, we are directed towards Posten Norge’s annual holiday greeting, which this year ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of Norway’s decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1972, featuring a multi-year courtship, whose brief annual encounters are finally extended a bit with the help of the Norwegian postal service. From all of us to all of you God jul!

Monday, 22 November 2021

mary’s boy child

Originally composed by Jester Hairston (*1901 - 2001) for a roommate's birthday party under the title “He Pone and Chocolate Tea” and the calypso tune later adapted to a holiday song in 1956 after Mahalia Jackson’s 1954 recording “Mary’s Little Boy Child” for Walter Schumann's Hollywood Choir, re-released the following year as a single, the performance by Harry Belafonte (previously) reached and held the top spot on the UK Hit Parade on this day in 1957.  A Christmas standard since, it was the first hit single longer than four minutes and there was also a disco cover-version by Boney M. in 1978 that also topped the charts.